Adventure: Northwest River Park

Adventure: Northwest River Park

Northwest-River-Park

For our first camping trip with a toddler, we stayed local. We’ve been to Northwest River Park numerous times to enjoy the walking trails (though there aren’t a plethora) and to camp once. It’s a relatively small park, with only a few trails, but it’s so nice to have something this close to home!

Northwest River also has canoe and paddle boat rentals for those wanting to traverse the waterways, fishing opportunities, miniature golf for the kiddos (the course is a little lacking though), a camp store (with ice cream!), some really lovely pavilions for picnicking, and a very nice playground inside the camping area. Read more

Adventure: Swing Time

Adventure: Swing Time

Adventures don’t have to involve travel to a distant place, they can take place right next door. When Hurricane Matthew struck the Virginia Beach area this past weekend, we ended up with flooding, downed trees, and closed roads. By Sunday morning the rain had ceased, but there was no getting out and about. By the afternoon, I knew Husband and Fiona had cabin fever and even me, homebody that I am, was ready for some fresh air. So we ventured out, just down the street to our local park in search of a baby swing for Fiona.

The park entrance was closed due to flooding, but we parked down the street and walked in. We had a delightful time in the crisp, fall-like air, enjoying the sunshine after such a storm. We found walnuts (and ate a few) and multiple bird nests that had blown out of the trees. Our walk in the fresh air and playtime with the babe lifted our spirits in more ways than one. I pray that I always remember that sometimes, adventure is just around the corner.

Swing Time with Baby Read more

Adventure: New England

Adventure: New England

Our trip to New England involved a lot of driving (Southern Virginia to Northern Vermont = 11 hours). But it was SO worth it. We hadn’t had a vacation in years, and our last one was incredibly busy. This time, we just enjoyed ourselves and the beautiful weather.

We drove from Virginia Beach to Vermont where we were able to stay with friends, then headed over to the southern coast of Maine for a few days where we saw five different lighthouses. Then it was back to Vermont for a few days before heading home to Virginia.

The trip was full of Vermont cheese, local maple syrup, cliff walks, mountain hikes, and time spent together — no demands, no expectations, no stress.

I recommend it!

A few photos from our favorite places in Vermont:

Quechee Gorge:
Vermont

Deer Leap Trail:
Vermont

Vermont

Vermont

Vermont

Photos from the southern coast of Maine. We stayed in Wells and visited South Portland, Kennebunkport, Ogunquit and more:

Maine

Maine

Maine

Maine

Maine

Maine

Maine

Maine

Maine

Maine

On our way home, we drove Skyline Drive and hiked White Oak Falls trail. The entire area was encased in fog, which made the drive difficult, but hiking in fog is wonderful.

Virginia

Virginia

Virginia

Virginia

Virginia

Virginia

Adventure: Chippokes Plantation State Park

Adventure: Chippokes Plantation State Park

fossilized shells in Virginia

We were having a hard time getting motivated. It was a gorgeous sunny day, cool enough to enjoy, but warm enough to wear short sleeves. There aren’t many days like that in Virginia. It too often goes from cold and rainy to hot and humid. Taking advantage of the lovely spring weather was a must, but we didn’t want to stay home (too many projects need attention) and we didn’t want to drive all the way back to the beach (we’d just been over there for church) and we didn’t want to be indoors.

When Husband suggested trying somewhere new, he knew it would pique my curiosity. Chippokes Plantation State Park, he suggested. I’d never heard of it, but he had passed by there a number of times as it’s just off the back route between Hampton Roads and Richmond.

We grabbed some apples and water bottles (and a few water bottles for the pup as well), threw the camera in the truck and headed off down the country road that is Route 10.

Chippokes Plantation is a historical plantation, with a beautiful manor home and outbuildings that have been lovingly preserved. It has formal gardens and acres up acres of farmland. It also has a lovely beach along the James River, where we found fossilized shells and we hear sharks teeth are available for the determined searcher. It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

James River beach

Chippokes Plantation beach, fossils

Chippokes Plantation beach

Chippokes Plantation State Park

Pup drinking from water fountain

Farmland in Virginia

Spring flowers at Chippokes Plantation

Historic Chippokes Plantation

Adventure: OBX Camping

Adventure: OBX Camping

Husband and I went camping for the first time this season — we’re embracing his newfound freedom (he has weekends off for the first time since we got married almost 5 years ago!). It was a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. A beautiful weekend. A campground reopening after the winter. A few months ago, we organized all of our camping gear, and it paid off. At about noon on Saturday, we threw all the bins of supplies in the bed of the truck, each packed a backpack of clothes, loaded up the pup and set off to the south.

We lounged at the site, cooked bison steaks over a charcoal grill, walked the beach, hunted for pretty shells, climbed sand dunes, stopped into The Frontporch Cafe for coffee and chai, got homemade ice cream in Manteo, did a little antiquing, and Husband even went surfing while Ginger and I slept in on Sunday. All in all, a successful trip!

Camping at Oregon InletThe view down into our campsite from the dunes at Oregon Inlet Campground. It was wonderful to be there when the campground wasn’t crowded, it wasn’t hot, and there weren’t any bugs!

Camping with the pupGinger is a great little camper and we love taking her with us.

Foggy spring dayVery foggy our first day there, loved watching the fog roll in and out over the water.

Husband in OBX

Ginger puppy

Beaches in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Playing with the dog at the beachGinger used to be terrified of the slightest puddle. She still doesn’t like waves, but tide pools are great!

Beaches in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Birds in OBX

Beaches in North Carolina

Beaches in North Carolina

The sun setting

Camping with a dog

Ginger got stuck with a cactus spineGinger got stuck with a cactus spine in her nose, that was a first. She also got sand burs in her paws several times. Always, always, always keep a close eye on your dogs while camping!

I think camping at Oregon Inlet the first weekend it opens in the spring might become a family tradition…

Adventure: A Kentucky Cabin

Adventure: A Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky CabinMy brother has a cabin in Kentucky, a small, two-bedroom, *mostly*-finished cabin in the woods. It doesn’t have an address. He needs to call the post office about that. It doesn’t show up on Google Maps, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. It doesn’t have a bathroom, yet. Someday it will. March snowfall has made the road to it nearly impassable, but he has four-wheel-drive and he can pick us up at the bottom of the hill.

Kentucky Cabin

We came from all around — Peter and his family from Ohio, John and his family from Georgia, myself from Virginia, my parents from another place in Ohio. Only one couldn’t join us this year, the brother in Washington, D.C. I guess it’s a city that never sleeps, or takes a vacation.

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Nieces and nephews were everywhere, tumbling over each other in the tiny space. They’re all getting so big.

Islay is nearly 11. I was her nanny when she was a newborn. Hard to believe how time passes.

Ian is nearly 10. He wears glasses now, and looks so studious.

Tessa is 8. I remember being there when my sister-in-law learned she was pregnant with child #3.

The twins are 9, they hang on every word Ian says, fascinated by the boy. Their only brother is 2 years old. It shows.

Sarah is 6. She just wants to be included with the big kids.

And little Peter (little Peter to differentiate from big Peter) is two. Adorable. Precocious. He tries his mother’s patience, but makes the rest of us laugh a lot.

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

I want to treasure the memories. Islay showing us her gymnastics skills and recently-won medals. Tessa sitting on my lap to play Battleship. Sarah playing Sorry! over, and over, and over. The twins sharing their love of reading with me. Little Peter putting on a “show” (ie. turning the lights out and singing one line of “Let it Go”). Big meals shared around a giant table. Warm fires in the wood stove. So many wet boots, hats, mittens, and snow pants. Knitting and talking and more knitting. Hikes, walks, tromping through the snow. A truck stuck in the mud. Laughter. So much laughter. These are moment to cherish.

Kentucky Cabin

I desperately hope Husband can join us next year at this Kentucky cabin, and my DC brother. To be complete. It would mean so much.

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin - Zipline

Kentucky Cabin - Zipline

Kentucky Cabin - Zipline

Kentucky Cabin - Zipline

Kentucky Cabin

{Moments of Inspiration}

{Moments of Inspiration}

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them;
for those experiences have left an indelible impression,
and we are ever and anon reminded of them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

So many moments of inspiration this week after spending several days with all my nieces and nephews in a two-room cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky.

So many “moments of inspiration” this week after spending several days
with all my nieces and nephews in a two-room cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky.

Thoughts on Camping

Thoughts on Camping

I came across this recently, which I had written back in the fall when Husband and I went camping last. Reading my own words made me realize that as much as I love hunkering down in my home, I’m developing a bit of cabin fever. I’m ready for winter to be over and warm weather to come again…

I’m going camping. I’m going camping. I’m going camping.

This has been my refrain for days now, looking forward to the blissful 48 hours I get to spend in the mountains, away from life and all its responsibilities. A wet 48 hours to be sure, but 48 of them all to ourselves. And the Giga, always with the Giga.

I think this is my favorite part of camping. Right here. The first night. The tent is set up, firewood is gathered, the pup is settled, Husband is puttering around the campsite adjusting things. I’m sitting by the fire soaking it all in. This.

It’s the anticipation. The “we’re finally here”. The sounds of crickets and frogs and all kinds of amazing things — a sound the drowns out the voices of our temporary “neighbors”. It’s so loud it is overwhelming. And it’s perfect. Because we’re here, doing this. We have the whole weekend ahead of us.

Our campsite at Sherando Lake State Recreation Area

On this first evening, I’m dreaming about sleeping in the tent. In my dreams its just like my childhood, where I slept so soundly cuddled far down in my sleeping bag. The ground wasn’t too hard. The noises weren’t worrisome (I think it necer occurred to me that a bear might visit our campsite, which most definitely happened the last time we went camping). I was a small child, given the shortest spot to lay, by the door or on the step (yes, my “bed” in our pop-up was the step up to the boys’ bed), but it never bothered me. It was never cramped. I don’t think about fitting my 5’7″ frame with Husband’s 6’2″ body and a 65 lb lanky dog in a 2-person tent. In fact, I long for it.

I recollect camping in the heat as a child, just like I remember camping in the freezing cold while in college, but it isn’t quite tangible to me anymore. I forget the sticky sweaty feeling of humid summer camping.

I look forward to waking up with the sun in the morning, somehow blocking from mind that it’s usually the sound of car doors slamming and children squeeling that wakes me at campgrounds. I forget just how hard it is to dress in a compact tent (skinny jeans are NOT the best option here).

I dream about hiking up the mountain tomorrow, about the view from the top and the euphoria of reaching it. I forget that I work a desk job now and am terribly out of shape, that it’s hot and sticky and we don’t have any water bottles. I anticipate the exuberance of the pup while forgetting that she will be pulling my arm out of its socket for at least the first mile or two.

Hiking Humpback Rocks Trail

Yes, the first night my eyes are full of stars. My heart is content, I am looking forward to everything the weekend will bring. Inevitably, it won’t be glamourous. The ground will be hard, the air thick, I’ll sleep fitfully. The hike will be steep, my thighs will burn and I will huff and puff throughout. Cleanup will be a bear. Everything will be sandy and nothing will fit exactly the way it did when we packed it at home. And, more than likely, it will all be soaked by the impending storm.

But when we leave, it will be with a sense of satisfaction. A knowing of having conquered the great outdoors. A rhythm that we only achieve when we get to spend days on end together. A wistfulness from having to leave it all behind. And when we arrive back to our real lives — the messy, over-ful, too busy, hard lives that we live — we will ache to return to our beautiful mountains. We will dream of the simplicity of life there. And we will forget all about the smell of bug spray, the stickiness of sweat, the constant grit of sand between our toes, the hardness of the ground, the reality of our physical condition. And we will wait with anticipation for the next chance we have to embark on such an adventure.

Camping and sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Slowing down

Slowing down

We took some time to slow down amid a busy September last weekend.

Busy is just that, busy. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are achieving, accomplishing. It doesn’t automatically mean that we are being productive or growing or stretching. It just means busy.

We’re still figuring out the balance. The rhythm. Of this new life, new home, new phase.

We walked down to the neighbor’s the other night and sat in their living room as the rain pounded down and just talked and talked for hours. Husband and I walked home in the dark, dodging the last of the rain drops. It was late, but it felt good to be making connections, making time, being, talking.

In an effort to make some of that time for ourselves, we took off for the mountains last weekend. It doesn’t happen nearly as often as we would like, but our little mountain excursions help bring us a bit of sanity, of slowing, of breathing, of being. It’s good for us.

A few photos and a few thoughts from our trip…

Sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Our campsite at Sherando Lake State Recreation Area

So green at the lakes

Thistle

Hiking Humpback Rocks Trail

The view from Humpback Rocks Trail

The pup made it to the top too

Enjoying the view, Blue Ridge Mountains